An Institutional Model for Improving Student Retention and Success at the University of Pretoria
A concerted institutional approach to improving student outcomes resulted in a faculty-based, student-focussed model for student success at the University of Pretoria (UP). The student academic development and excellence model (SADEM), developed by a Steering Committee for student success, employs developmental research and systems theory and targets all years of undergraduate study while prioritising the first year. Underpinned by a systemic metric framework and continuous improvement, interventions comprise institutional and faculty-based projects that target high impact modules and diverse students to improve retention, pass, and throughput rates. Though context specific, it offers solutions to international concerns - lack of a systemic approach; initiatives located in peripheral units; initiatives located outside academic disciplines and lack of participation by academic staff and a focus on retention of limited student subgroups instead of retention, pass, graduation and throughput rates of all students. The circumstances that led to its development, its key features and application at the UP, ways it can be adapted to other contexts, as well as its limitations and possible future directions are presented.